Huron Playschool Cooperative

Oh, Canada!

In the "Cool Things Playschool Parents Get Up To" file, check out Playschool Parent Xin (who is also our registrar) singing "Oh, Canada" in Mandarin as part of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Canada Mosaic "Our Shared Anthem" project, along with 11 other singers in Canada's most commonly spoken languages. You can see her video and all the others here. 

Good Times at Chipotle

Chipotle dinner

We're so grateful to Chipotle and to everyone who came out for dinner on Monday night—and there were so many of you! We were able to raise $322 to support playschool programs and—just as good—none of us had to make dinner. It was a terrific evening with playschool and alumni families visiting throughout, for take-out and also to take the opportunity to sit down and enjoy each other's company. We're all so lucky to be part of this excellent community. 

How to Dress Your Kids for Winter Weather

Kids in Snow

Winter is back! Okay, it's not as *back* as the above photo suggests; dont worry, the photo is from last year. But we've already had snow and the season is just getting started. And when it's cold outside, we still like to go out and play. And so if this is your family's first Canada winter, we've got some advice about how to dress your children warmly for winter weather so playing outside is still a lot of fun. 

1) A warm coat: The thicker the better. Warmer coats are often more expensive, but the cost can be worth it. And you can usually get a great deal by picking up coats second-hand. Check out Value Village or any kids clothing consignment store. 

2) Snowpants: These usually come with the winter coat, although you can also purchase them separately. Snowpants keep the wind out and mean that when children come in from outdoor play and peel off their layers, the clothes underneath are usually dry. 

3) Boots: A good pair of boots will keep toes warm and socks dry. Remember to bring indoor shoes for children to change into. 

4) Mittens: A good parenting tip I learned is to buy a whole bunch of cheap mittens and keep them in a basket. Children will spend all winter long losing one mitten and then the other, so it's always good to have some spares on hand. 

5) A Neckwarmer: More portable than a scarf and safer too, a neckwarm keeps the wind off one's collar. Not essential but nice to have. 

6) A Hat: There is a brief window in childhood (post baby and before preteen) in which children are actually willing to wear their winter hats. Take advantage of this with something that covers the ears. And with a hood pulled up over a warm hat, the child inside can expect to be snuggly warm. 

7) Finally, try to ensure that all roads lead to hot chocolate. With marshmallows. 

Our Chipotle fundraiser is coming up fast...

If you love playschool too, we hope you'll join us for our Chipotle Fundraiser this Monday, November 21. Come for dinner at Chipotle on Bloor Street West anytime between 3 and 10 pm, and if you let them know you're there to support playschool, 50% of what you spend will come back to us to support our programs. We are grateful to Chipotle for being such awesome neighbours, and we hope to see you all there. More details are here! 

Picture Books for a Better World

Plenty of parents have been asking themselves, "What am I going to tell my children?" over the past few days. Perhaps reading these stories is a good place to start. (And we recommend you pick up your copies at Parentbooks, which is in our neighbourhood and is a longstanding indie bookshop with a social justice bent.) 

Book Cover We All Count

We All Count, by Julie Flett

We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers is the 2014 board book from Native Northwest featuring the artwork of Cree/Métis artist Julie Flett. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, this bilingual board book introduces Plains Cree (y-dialect) and Swampy Cree (n-dialect) written in Roman orthography. Artist and author has a simple graphic style using bold and clear text to introduce counting with appropriate cultural images from contemporary Cree society. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Cree and English using authentic Cree imagery.

**

A Family is a Family is a Family, by Sara O'Leary and Qin Leng

When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways—but the same in the one way that matters most of all.

One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One has many stepsiblings, and another has a new baby in the family.

As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation—the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, it is special.

**

A is for Activist, by Innosant Nagaro

A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.

The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents' values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books.

**

Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

**

Stepping Stones, by Margriet Ruurs and Nazir Ali Badr

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s book writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately captivated by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

**

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, by Danielle Daniel

In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal, while the few lines of text on each page work as a series of simple poems throughout the book.

In a brief author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children seeking to understand themselves and others.

**

Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney

Barbara Cooney's story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication.

**

The Body Book, by Roz MacLean

Look at your body,
And learn to say,
Every body is different,
And that's okay.

Big or small,
Short or tall,
The Body Book
Is fun for all!

The Body Book helps kids learn to love their bodies while recognizing and celebrating how every body is different!

**

The Stone Thrower, by Jael Ealey Richardson and Matt James

The African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.

Chuck Ealey grew up poor in a racially segregated community that was divided from the rest of town by a set of train tracks, but his mother assured him that he wouldn’t stay in Portsmouth forever. Education was the way out, and a football scholarship was the way to pay for that education. So despite the racist taunts he faced at all the games he played in high school, Chuck maintained a remarkable level of dedication and determination. And when discrimination followed him to university and beyond, Chuck Ealey remained undefeated.

**

 

What can we do?

Sometimes, because our staff is so capable and when everything in general is running smoothly, it's easy to forget what makes a cooperative childcare centre different than a standard centre. Sure, you have to go to a meeting every few months, and fees are lower than they'd be elsewhere—but the meaningfulness of being part of a co-op can get lost in the busyness of every day life.

It certainly did for me for awhile, but what inspired me to adjust my approach was reading a tribute to a former playschool parent whose legacy continues at the school to this day. It was the part about her and her partner coming in to playschool at the weekends to repair and paint the baseboards to help pass a health and safety inspection, and that detail made me realize: "Oh, wait. I've only just been showing up." 

The story of the baseboards is not extraordinary. Yesterday, I came to playschool and a parent had a drill and was installing a light fixture—we're all doing our part. But what can we do to do even more than that? How do we take ownership of this community (which is difficult to do with turnover being what it is—few of us are ever here for more than a handful of years)?

1) Ensure your Parent Job is meaningful. There are two ways to do this: first, understand that the job you do is hugely important to our programs running smoothly, whether it involves cleaning duties or administration tasks. It means something to all of us.

But another idea is to lend us the benefit of your specific talents: do you have a background in finance? Project management? Fundraising? Have you served on non-profit boards before? If you have this kind of experience, let our board members or teacher know. (This is also a nice way to keep resumes current if parents are taking time off from work during their children's early years, and to add additional experience to your own CV.) 

2) Be a part of our programming. We welcome opportunities for parents to join classes and teach special programming (music, art, movement, etc.). Join us to share stories about your culture and help us partake in its celebrations. This is an incredible chance to be part of your child's educational experience, and all the children benefit. 

3) Speak up! If you see something that needs doing, offer to take it on. We are aiming to foster a culture of ownership in which families feel comfortable assuming initiatives and offering their ideas. See next point for an example...

4) We have a crepe making holiday fete coming up in early December, because a playschool parent had the inspiration and wanted to offer her talents. Please offer your own talents, ideas and suggestion for fundraisers and community events. 

5) Attend events! Our Chipotle fundraiser is coming up in a week and a half. On top of it being an excellent opportunity to support playschool (50% of the money you spend will come back to playschool programs) it will be a very good evening with excellent company. 

6) Have some vision. In 2018, Huron Playschool Cooperative will reach our half-century, thanks to the hard work of families and teachers over the years. And now we have a chance to make sure that legacy too is lasting with the work we're doing today. 

7) Remember that in choosing a cooperative childcare centre, your family is modelling something important for your children about how we can all live together in the world. Everyone has a part to play, talents to lend, and disagreements and complications are opportunities to work out something better for everyone.

It gives us an opportunity to be the kind of people we hope our children can be in their own lives (and we even learn this from them)—people who work together, support each other, and believe in the possibilities of human connection. 

Playschool Fundraiser at Chipotle! November 21

Thanks to Chipotle (501 Bloor Street) for being a terrific neighbour and supporting Huron Playschool. Hope to see playschool and alumni families there for a delicious meal. 

Chipotle flyer

Happy Halloween

Pumpkin

Happy Halloween from Huron Playschool, home of the world's most excellent bedazzled pumpkin.

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